This Labor Day weekend the six of us marked the official close of summer with a trip to the beach, complete with iPhone camera to document every moment of family togetherness. Never mind the sand that threatened to infest my very expensive piece of mobile technology: the moment needed to be recorded, dammit. Except baby Mo would have nothing to do with this photo-clicking frenzy. It became comical as she turned away from every camera angle in what seemed a defiant attempt to actually experience the moment — gleefully digging in the sand and retrieving ocean water in a bucket — rather than posing for posterity. I have the other kids trained to strike a pose at every “say cheese,” but not Mo (or, evidently, Daddy-O):
When you think about it, the whole idea of “capturing the moment” is a bit troubling. It’s often been said that this generation of children is the most photographed in history, with every milestone — big and minuscule — recorded by digital cameras. What impact does this have on how we experience family life and on how children experience their childhood? This drive to record must be especially strong at the end of summer, as parents anticipate our children moving up to another grade level in school and losing one more strand of childhood in the maturation process.
I have posted a lot so far on this blog about the spectacularization of celebrity moms, including how ridiculously fit Brooke Burke looks in a bikini after giving birth to four children. This pressure wasn’t lost on me this weekend as I debuted my post-baby bikini body at the beach for the first time (you’ll notice that there are no photographs of that sight, at least none I’ll share here). As I self-consciously frolicked on the beach while trying to hold my gut in, I felt great empathy for celebrity moms whose every beach frolick is studied by paparazzi eager for an unflattering shot of their exposed bodies.
But what I really thought about was those celebrity kids — the Suri Cruises of the tabloids — whose childhood is constantly interrupted by the prying lens of paparazzi photographers. Is this really so different from how we “capture” our own children’s moments and post them for the world to see?
I finally got Mo to look at the camera during our beach trip, but she hardly seemed happy about it. I think she just figured that if she gave me the money shot, I would finally leave her alone to play in peace:
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